Are you affected by the bedroom tax?
If you live in a council or housing association home and have one or more spare bedrooms, your Housing Benefit could be cut.
The bedroom tax could affect you:
- If you're under pension age
- Even if you only get a small amount of Housing Benefit – for example, if you're working
- If you're working age, but sick or disabled.
The bedroom tax doesn't apply if:
- You or your partner are State pension age
- You live in a one bedroom flat or bedsit
- You have a shared ownership property
- You live in supported exempt accommodation
- You pay boat mooring charges or caravan site rent
- You've been placed in temporary accommodation by the council as you're homeless.
If you make a new claim for benefit, the bedroom tax won't apply for the first 13 weeks - if you haven't claimed in the last 52 weeks and could previously afford your rent.
How much benefit do you lose?
If you have one spare bedroom, your Housing Benefit will be cut by 14% of the rent you pay every week. If you have two or more spare bedrooms, you'll lose 25%.
For example, if your rent is £100 per week, you'll lose £14 if you have one spare bedroom and £25 if you have two or more spare bedrooms.
If your benefit is reduced, you'll have to pay the difference between your Housing Benefit and your rent.
How to work out if you have a spare bedroom
The rules allow one bedroom for:
- Each adult couple (married or unmarried)
- Each other person aged 16 or over
- Two children of the same sex under the age of 16
- Two children of either sex under the age of 10
- Each other child
- A carer (who doesn't normally live with you) if you or a disabled person in your home needs regular overnight care.
If you're an approved foster carer, you'll be allowed an extra room if you:
- Have a foster child placed with you
- Have fostered or have become an approved foster carer in the last 12 months and are waiting for a child to be placed with you.
You'll only get benefit for one extra bedroom under this rule, even if you have more than one foster child.
If you have an adult child (son or daughter, step-son or step-daughter) in the armed forces, you'll get the extra bedroom allowance for them while they are away on operations, as long as they intend to come home.
If you and your partner can't share a room because of a disability or medical condition, or if you have a disabled child who can't share a room because of their condition, we can allow an extra room. The disabled person will need to be getting the middle or high rate of Disability Living Allowance (care component), Attendance Allowance at the high rate, Personal Independence Payment (Daily Living) or Armed Forces Independence Payment.
If somebody has recently died in your household, this could mean that your home is now classed as too big for you. But you'll be protected from the size limit rules for up to 12 months.
Citizens Advice has a useful calculator to help work out how many bedrooms you need.
Bedrooms that can't be counted
The rules apply even if:
- Your children have a permanent address elsewhere, but you have a spare room for when they stay with you
- Your home has been adapted to give you a secure room after you suffered domestic violence
- Your home has been adapted for your disability
- You have a room for storing medical equipment
- You and your partner have separate rooms because of disability or a medical condition, but don't get one of the qualifying benefits shown above.
What if I can't afford to pay the rest of my rent?
You could try to find work, or increase your hours.
Or you may decide to take in a lodger or family member. But you would need to get your landlord's permission first, and you should also check how this would affect your Housing Benefit, any single person Council Tax discount, or any other benefits you get.
You may be able to get some short-term extra help through the Discretionary Housing Payments scheme, but this can't be guaranteed as there isn't enough funding to help everyone.
Otherwise you could look at moving home. Talk to your landlord, who'll advise you if moving to a smaller home is possible and what steps you need to take.
If your circumstances change
It is very important that you let us know straight away if the number of people in your household changes, so that we can make sure that your benefit is correct.
Last updated: Fri 20 March, 2020 @ 17:10